Dec 082010

GETTY 7 The need to learn to see before writing about Art

The best way I know of learning to see Art (with a capital A) is by studying Art. The whole gamut. What is it all about? For me Art is the vision history of thinking Man: homo sapiens. What has happened since 1905 is only a minute part of that development. Indeed I see it as a slightly hysterical response to the invention of photography. The impact of photography was steadily eroding the representational part of art, in portraiture for instance. The representation of nature was no longer a matter for the hand and eye of Man, it could all be done quickly and mechanically.

No it cannot all be done mechanically. There is a vitally important part of art that is to do with our apparatus for comprehension: our brain and sensing mechanisms. How do they work? How do they limit our understanding? All that is described in the history of objects but not much in the History of Art as practised today.

The interpretation of art objects should be put back firmly in the hands of practitioners, people who can see: people who honour their own perceptions above the written word. Sadly this is an idea that is foreign to recent Art History. The older the written word the more it is regarded as holy writ. Vasari was a mediocre painter but nonetheless perceptive. He knew which side his bread was buttered and therefore wrote propaganda for Florence that has persisted to this day.

Due to him most people see the Renaissance as a purely Florentine affair. While it is true the Florentines made a huge contribution towards humanism from 1400 onwards, the first stirring of this movement were in Paris or Assissi; gathering momentum in Pisa and Siena. Cimabue and Giotto are rather over promoted by Vasari. The Pisani and Renaldo, Duccio, Martini and the Lorenzetti brothers were breaking new ground in Siena, not to mention Cavalani in Rome, who on firm evidence is now believed by many to have been responsible in Assissi, not Giotto. Vasari favoured the Florentines rather too often to give him the benefit of the doubt by suggesting that he was misinformed rather than purposely bending the truth.

Alas, people tend to see what they are told to see, instead of looking for themselves. Vasari is not holy writ. He may remain the best informer available about the Florentine Renaissance but trained eyes are more reliable.

How does all this relate to Rembrandt at the Getty? It is a necessary background to understanding the mind set of Art Historians they are much closer to a self-perpetuating medieval priesthood than to the scientifically oriented historians they would have us believe in. My discoveries are facts proven as far as any set of facts can be proven. No one has come up with any credible alternative explanation to the continuous use of reflections by Rembrandt that I have demonstrated.

It follows that this new evidence, which is entirely in accord with Rembrandt’s contemporaries, should become the guiding principle in Rembrandt studies but it is neglected. The effect of paying attention to the new evidence would be to reverse the present diminishing trend of Rembrandt scholarship and bring back the Great Rembrandt.

My question “has anyone studying Rembrandt heard a discussion of my discoveries in a department of art history?” has been on my site since . The site has received over half a million visits but no one has responded. The Getty catalogue does not mention my rational alternative to their groundless theories of the changes in Rembrandt’s style. What more evidence of intellectual/professional misconduct is necessary? They must be stopped now. Rembrandt is much too important an artist to be subjected to their whims.